A lawyer representing families of victims of killings and torture in Burundi has confirmed his team has been granted 124 new warrants – or referrals – to bring cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek justice for the victims of Burundi's security crackdown.
The crisis that has killed thousands of people, pits supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza against those who say that his re-election in July 2015 for a third term violated the nation's constitution. After a failed coup, the government intensified its crackdown and most of those arrested or disappeared today are young men and women accused of participating in or supporting opposition groups.
Bernard Maingain, one of the three lawyers representing the families of victims of alleged extra-judicial executions, last month exclusively told IBTimes UK he was hopeful the ICC may launch an official investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in the small East African country.
On 27 March, Maingain's team handed 124 new warrants to the ICC on the behalf of victims and families of victims.
In a first since families officially mandated the group of lawyers to bring cases in front of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the ICC in March 2016, Maingain confirmed the leadership of opposition party FNL also instructed the lawyers to hand warrants to the ICC on the behalf of 431 families.
"From now on, no authority can ignore this inescapable reality of the Burundian judicial history," the lawyers said in a statement. "Most of the families who have come together around the lawyers Collective for Victims and Civil Parties (...) demand that justice is served."
Highlighting the "imprescriptible" nature of the crimes, Maingain said those suspected of sponsoring, the perpetrators and accomplices of the crimes "must account for their actions before the courts".
In October last year, Burundi became the first nation to withdraw from the ICC amid widespread antipathy in Africa towards the court. Nkurunziza's decision came less than a year after the ICC announced it was conducting a preliminary investigation into alleged violations "by the government and people whose actions can be attributed to the government" that could amount to crimes against humanity.